4 Parts of the Scandal Universe I Wish Existed In Real Life

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The shows of Shondaland aren't exactly renowned for their dedication to the gritty realism of their subjects. I can't speak to the universes of Grey's Anatomy or How to Get Away With Murder, but as a lifelong political junkie and current political news writer, I can tell you everything about where Scandal departs from the dreary, painfully unsexy reality of American politics.

I'm not here to tell anyone that Olivia and Fitz would be in big trouble for using public resources to run away to Vermont. I LOVE Scandal. It's my candy-colored antidote to the grind of constant campaigns, negativity, and cynicism that leaves me ready to crawl into a Kerry Washington-sized glass of wine at the end of nearly every day. I love it so much, and I'm so exhausted by a system that hurts so many people and enriches so few that I'd like to take a few pieces of the Scandal-verse IRL. Some are big, some are small, but trust me — we'd all be better off.

1. Powerful men actually have affairs with smart, independent women.
This one is a little bit of a cheat. There are tons of Washigton couples in the world of politics with serious clout who aren't named Clinton, and the whole first season of Scandal revolves around Fitz' dalliance with a hapless intern. But the show has Olivia Pope and Mellie Grant in addition to poor, doomed Amanda Tanner, and POTUS just can't stay away from the smartest women in the room. The list of politicians who had affairs with women who were their subordinates is long and bipartisan — President Bill Clinton, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, literally dozens of long-forgotten Congressmen — and in the age of social media, it will only get longer. Give me the romantic dramas of Pope and Associates and their high-powered paramours.

2. Pro-choice Republicans exist — and they win.
I'm not saying that there aren't members of the GOP who support abortion care out there, but it's crystal clear from recent hearings in the House of Representatives that wherever they are, they are not in charge of federal policy on reproductive health care. Fitzgerald Grant definitely comes off like Shonda Rhimes' writers created a liberal and then just called him a Republican, but I don't care. In a real world where there are political leaders who believe birth control pills kill babies, I welcome any chance to pretend that we don't live in a world where some women already can't get the health care they need.

3. Everyone has amazing clothes.
First Lady Michelle Obama has finally brought some exciting, modern fashion to Washington, D.C., but once you leave the White House, the dress code is all dull colors and conservative suits. At least women are allowed to wear pants in the Senate now (yes, and that change happened way too recently).

4. You're not paranoid — everything actually IS a massive government conspiracy.
9/11 truthers. A secret FEMA plan to herd Americans into camps after Hurricane Katrina. Chemtrails. Flouride in the water is actually mind control. Benghazi. You don't want to know many people believe that these...creative ideas are actually true. I get it! The world is kind of a terrible place sometimes, and there's something comforting about a grand unified theory that would explain why tragedies happen, both large and small, both here and abroad.

B613 lets me indulge my deepest, darkest desire to shut off my brain and say, "There HAS to be a puppet-master behind this awful turn of events." We do have real life bad people operating in the shadows, sure, but on Scandal the guys who work in the dark aren't the tortured, virtuous souls of Homeland. A lovable tech weirdo has a history as a black ops assassin? Sure. A woman escapes from a secret terrorist prison and starts stalking her long-lost daughter? It worked on Alias. It's way more fun when you know it could never happen.

BONUS: One Scandal plot that's just a little too real.
The whole Defiance plot was an obvious reference to the 2000 election and the recount fight between Al Gore and George W. Bush that went all the way to the Supreme Court. But it could also be a preview of future elections if the country doesn't get new voting machines. According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice, which studies voting rights and voting laws, almost every state is using machines that are more than a decade old, and some have machines that are nearly 15.

Most of us replace our phones and computers well before they'd be old enough for kindergarten. They would break and malfunction long before that, and the servers that record and store our votes don't have a long shelf life. Many of them can't be repaired without hunting for parts on eBay. You don't have to believe someone will steal an election to be annoyed that we're repeating 2012's TV storylines.


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